Opinion: Fear over protections for child refugees
PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 February 2020
In recent days Conservative MPs rejected bid to help child refugees as the commons overturned Lords changes to the Brexit Bill.
The vote overturned a bid by the House of Lords to let child refugees settle with their families in the UK
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I am dismayed that the government will water down vital protections for child refugees in the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. I joined my colleagues to vote to restore protections for child refugee family reunion but were heavily defeated by the government benches.
Right now across Europe there are thousands of unaccompanied child refugees living in the most desperate circumstances - many of whom are separated from their families. Legal family reunion is a lifeline to these children who would otherwise risk their lives in dingies or in the back of lorries in order to reach a place of safety.
In 2018, a cross party coalition recognised the humanitarian need for family reunion to continue and secured a legal commitment from the government to negotiate a replacement. For the government to seek to remove these protections now risks causing panic amongst refugee families currently separated in Europe with potentially tragic consequences.
The government have indicated that they intend to continue with refugee family reunion. It is not clear why they are going to the trouble of taking the legal commitment out of this bill. Without it, there will be no obligation to ensure family reunion continues, beyond the restrictive rules in UK law.